Tom West

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Tom West

  • Rank
  1. A truly delightful episode. While I’ve not been actively wargaming for years, this episode had me perusing Lou’s website for hours. I haven’t yet had the fortitude to cut up and mount counters in Robot Barbarossa, but I did print things out and have been delving into the rules. As a long-time Europa series follower, this also prompted me to take a look at Frank Chadwick’s Thunder in the East, which was entirely off my radar (I tend to look into Europa progress every 5 years or so...), so also thanks for that. And lastly, the historical anecdotes made this episode well worth while. Here’s hoping for more Winter of Wargaming episodes.
  2. Episode 429: Subterfuge

    A very enjoyable episode. But boy did the description of their game of Subterfuge sound an awful like our game of Neptune's Pride - all consuming, amazing, utterly exhausting, and total agreement among all participants that we would need at least a year before we would ever play it again, even as we constantly talked about it for the next several months.
  3. Dear God. That's both magnificent and horrible. What I don't understand is that if you're going to do a modern EU4 (and I don't really mind the idea, although it probably wouldn't be my cup of tea), why on earth not simply do a modern EU4. It seems kind of bait and switch to promise something as specific as WWII and then throw that particular history to the wind.
  4. I'm thinking that if I play the Netherlands or Bulgaria or Greece, I'm basically playing until a major power kills me or puppets me. If there's any sense of historicity, there's nothing I can do to save myself or alter the course of the war by anything but the most miniscule amount. If I'm playing single player HoI 3, how does the game make playing a minor power rewarding? Doesn't it feel like playing a security officer on Star Trek? "Congratulations, you played Belgium better than any player on Earth. Because of your talent and skill, Belgium fell a full two weeks later than it did historically! Well done!" :-).
  5. Do people think it's even *possible* to design a game that is simultaneously (1) interesting for all 20 players in a multiuplayer game and (2) an even slightly realistic simulation of WWII. This was an era that if you werent a major superpower, you essentially lived and died by the whim of someone who was. I think Paradox has set an impossible design goal. Multiplayer should be restricted to major powers only (or at least, don't expect a fun game if you choose otherwise). Or, if they choose to make *that* a decent game, don't expect it to be any fun to play as a WWII simulation. Now, having said that, I haven't played HoI3. Did that somehow actually manage these two almost opposite design goals?
  6. Episode 287: General Mayhem

    I found the episode fascinating, but I have to say that in my opinion, Rob seemed a little too hard on games that gave generals benefits to those around them. As alluded to in the podcast, the problem is that games take away the one ability that separated good generals from bad, the ability to make good or bad strategic decisions (because you're making them all). So if the design doesn't allow generals to actually be generals, what is left except "super-powers"? Another point brought up was always using one's "good" generals and sacking the bad ones. Some games try to simulate this difficulty, but I think the more realistic problem is that generals don't come with a "strategic capability rating" pinned to their chest. Instead, you try to glean a general's abilities by how well they do in battles. The only problem is that there are also a dozen other factors that come into play, obscuring the role of the general. Personally, I think you could make a fascinating mechanic where you don't know general's ratings, only the outcomes from battles. Combine this with some limited ability to bounce generals up and down the hierarchy, and you have a game where you might very well be promoting an initially lucky but actually incompetent general, etc. Of course against that, you have the fact that players want generals to follow historic models, meaning they want far more information than was available to the Commander in Chief, and players also like to have exact factors rather than being forced to estimate, so maybe this isn't such a great mechanic after all.
  7. Episode 276: Functional Cogs Only

    hexgrid, I'd classify the fourth way as the "get it while it's hot". The purpose in both cases is primarily to raise capital and you have to offer a discount in order to mitigate risk. One danger is that if you are operating in a niche (i.e. limited) market, you may indeed substantially fulfil that market at the discounted rate, reducing over-all revenue. Truthfully, for something as odd as Clockwork Empire, that might be my concern. (One can dream big, but what's the 90th percentile sales for a game like that?) Honestly, if they're not hurting for cash, I'd have taken their route. You want some -limited- sales to get a little more feedback, but only from those who are *truly* keen about the idea (and are likely to play an incomplete game). It keeps the game in the news, which is important, and it avoids the problem of people giving up on the game if they missed the discount window because the lower price has decreased the anchor price for the game. (Using pre-sales to explore market acceptance seems a pretty shoddy thing to do, as that implies cancellation if it's not pre-selling well. I would doubt any reputable indy designer would operate that way.) [Edited to add that last line]
  8. Episode 276: Functional Cogs Only

    I think there are multiple ways of looking at early access: "get it while it's hot" (in which case their should be a significant discount to the final price) "have a chance to play it early and give feedback", in which case you're not so much trying to raise early capital and the price should be the same as the final price "be a patron", in which case people are paying *more* than the final price for the privilege of helping the game become a become a reality. All three are reasonable approaches, but one has to be prepared for the fact that a moderate number of people looking at early access cannot imagine that there's any other reason for early access except the "get it while it's hot" strategy and will be somewhat put out that you aren't discounting. It's unfortunate (how dare you not tailor your marketing to me!), but it is a reality and needs to be taken into account when developing one's marketing/pricing strategy.
  9. Episode 242: A Black Turn of Events

    This is obviously a little late to contribute to the discussion, but a few points about victory conditions and puzzle games. It seems to me that most games define a brilliant or decisive victory as very close to the optimal outcome of the game. Unfortunately, an optimal outcome is only likely if you (1) choose the optimal path, (2) if your opponent has multiple strategies possible, they do not choose the most effective, and (3) you have good luck. Almost by definition, if any of these do not occur, the final result will not be optimal and you'll be denied your briliant victory. While obtaining a brilliant victory does scratch a certain itch (I also go for three stars in Angry Birds), it does mean repeated plays until you learn the optimal strategy, your opponent doesn't choose the best riposte, and you have decent luck. It becomes a puzzle game with a moderate amount of repetition waiting for stars to align on your virtual dice. However, simply accepting this ignores a very important aspect of computer gaming. Computer games *can* change the victory conditions to account for (1) experience, (2) enemy strategy, (3) luck. We all talk about the joy of find a successful path out a difficulty situation, but in the world of fixed victory conditions, that's just pulling a marginal defeat out of the jaws of a decisive defeat, not much of a reward for what might be one's finest game play. I would like games to be able to change the victory conditions so that having rolled virtual 1's on my first 4 river crossing rolls, *now* victory is based on my ability to abandon my original plan of attack and try a risky flank manuever. Sure, at best I'll pick up 1/3 or the VPs I thought I'd get at the beginning, but that might be now good enough for a briliant victory if I play my cards right. I'd like to go into a squad level game with victory conditions to capture x victory hexes, find out about half way through realize that I'm actually outnumbered 2-1, and victory is not getting wiped off the map. Or perhaps opposition is much weaker than expected, and now I have to get twice as many VPs! I'd love to see a game where if Hitler does decide to sacrifice the SS to garrison a city, I don't instantly lose - the victory conditions change to what can realistically be achieved given the enemy strategy, but now I have to change my entire strategy on the fly. With situation-dependent victory conditions, you no longer have to minimize the role of luck, or make sure the AI only tries one major strategy. We can now adapt victory conditions to the fact that in reality you only get to play once. What's demanded of the first time player of a scenario can be different from the 10th time. Successfully adapting to an unexpected and changing situation is often the best part of gaming. But that'll never produce the optimal outcome - only the optimal outcome for the situation. If victory conditions can't adapt, then we'll never be properly rewarded for our best and most enjoyable play. And that seems a pity.